Managing time in meetings

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Apr 30 2021 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

One of the main concerns when running a webinar or virtual meeting is managing time effectively. And if that was true in the past, itís even more important in the Zoom-dominated world so many of us are now living in.

Too often, we become so focused on fitting everything into the allotted time slot that we forget to focus on what the meeting is actually supposed to accomplish. This creates a vicious cycle of poorly led meetings, leading to more people showing up late or leaving early, which leads toÖ well you get it.

Remember that keeping your meetings to time is important, but discussion and participation shouldn't be cut short in the name of managing time. That would be a little like having only a few members of your football team go to a game because the bus was too small for all of them. Sometimes you just need a different bus!

Here are some tips for managing time more effectively - and they're just as relevant to physical meetings, too.

Check in with your team at the beginning of the meeting. Run through the agenda. Are there items people aren't prepared for or donít want to tackle during this meeting? If so, just remove them now and free up room. Do people have hard deadlines? Does everyone have to leave the meeting at the same time? If so, move the most important items that require hearing from everyone up the agenda so that everyone (or at least as many as practical) can take part and add value.

Get buy-in to the original timeline when the meeting starts. Help people set expectations and plan to stick to timelines as best they can.

As the original time nears its end, check with your participants. Have you accomplished what you've set out to do? Is there more to discuss? In this way, you can move on early from topics that have exhausted themselves and gain some more time.

Re-prioritize throughout the meeting. What are the things that are either time-sensitive or critical to your overall project timeline? Items on the critical path have priority over the items you'll have to discuss "eventually".

Can the information be transmitted asynchronously? If you're merely handing out reports, or sending monthly updates, ask if you really need to take time together that could be spent on issues requiring real-time input. Spend time where it will do the most good. Sharing documents can be done later in lots of different, more efficient ways.

Assign someone to watch the time for you. This can be a formal arrangement or just ask someone to private message you to quit yacking and watch the clock. Better yet, empower everyone to speak up if they feel time's being wasted. And take time to check with everyone periodically.

Every team can benefit from making a commitment to managing their time as well as focusing on the work to be done. It's not an either-or situation.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. Heís passionate about helping people present, sell and lead people and projects using todayís virtual communication technology. His books include Meet Like You Mean It - a Leaderís Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings. Wayne is based in Chicago, IL.